WASHINGTON - Russia, responding to the Japanese nuclear crisis, will perform a "stress test" on all its reactors to judge their ability to withstand earthquakes more powerful than the original design anticipated, the Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom said on Thursday.

Rosatom is willing to share the test results with the United States, said the company's director general, Sergey Kirienko, who met here with Energy Department officials.

The United States and Russia signed a nuclear cooperation agreement last year.

Mr. Kirienko also said he thought the World Association of Nuclear Operators, an industry group based in London, should have expanded authority to inspect reactors and coordinate safety efforts. Rosatom is a member of the group.

In an interview, Mr. Kirienko said the Russian stress tests would be completed in the next few months.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is pushing for the European Union to conduct such tests on all 143 nuclear reactors of its member countries. In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Wednesday that it would complete a review of American reactors over the next 90 days, to determine what changes might be necessary after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

If Russian reactors failed the stress tests, "we will have to take compensating measures," Mr. Kirienko said.

"I do not exclude the possibility of decommissioning some reactors, or replacing them with new ones as soon as possible."

American reactors were put through a similar exercise in the 1990s, identifying weak spots and reinforcing them. At some plants, workers attached extra cables to the ceiling tiles in control rooms, to make sure they would not fall on operators in an earthquake. At others they beefed up the overhead trays that support control cables and power cables. Some strengthened the big tanks that hold cooling water; sometimes that meant removing small glass windows in the tank wall used to observe the water level, because the window could break, creating a leak.

Russia does not operate any boiling water reactors, the type involved in Fukushima. It operates many pressurized water reactors, a design also used in the West that Russian officials say is inherently safer. Some of the oldest such reactors in Russia have an extra-large volume of cooling water on hand, Mr. Kirienko said.

Mr. Kirienko said he did not expect the Fukushima case to affect the pace of reactor construction in China or India, because those countries already had nuclear expertise. But he said that reactor development in Italy, Switzerland and Venezuela, which do not have reactors now, would be delayed. And he said that Germany, which decided last week to shut down seven older nuclear plants, would probably also slow any new developments.

Despite the crisis in Japan, Russia may actually increase nuclear construction, Rosatom officials said. Sergey Novikov, a spokesman, said that before the disaster, the Russian goal was to increase the fraction of electricity from reactors to 25 to 30 percent by 2030, from 16 percent now.

In light of Fukushima, he said, the effort might turn to replacing some older reactors.
Source: The New York Times